KEENE, N.H.—You know that moment where you walk into a room and it's clear that everyone has been talking about you? Hillary Clinton is having that moment, and that room is the whole state of New Hampshire.
The Democratic front-runner is here Monday following a weekend in which more than a dozen Republican 2016 hopefuls spent the weekend trashing her. And she wasted no time is returning fire—including thinly veiled shots at Chris Christie and Jeb Bush over Social Security benefits.
"I don't know how people can make some of the arguments they make" on Social Security, Clinton said, noting how "dependent" many older Americans are on the program. "What do we do to make sure it is there and we don't mess with it and we don't pretend that it's a luxury? Because it's not a luxury; it's a necessity."
Clinton specifically called out those who want to "privatize Social Security or undermine it in some way." "It's just wrong," she said. "Let's figure out what works and how we build on what works—and let's not get into arguments, as I say, about ideology."
Though she didn't mention anyone by name, Clinton's comments appear to be a reaction to the several GOP candidates who embraced some form of entitlement reform during their own New Hampshire trips. Last week, Christie unveiled a plan for a Social Security and Medicare overhaul, a longtime third rail in American politics—a move to help shore up his conservative bona fides as the GOP primaries get underway. Bush, too, said he'd support raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility.
Clinton's event, a roundtable with employees of the Whitney Brothers factory, was similar to the smaller, more intimate events that launched her campaign in Iowa last week. She spoke on a range of issues, from education to drug addiction to early childhood development.
The former secretary of State also took a few questions from reporters following the event, including one on allegations of wrongdoing and questionable donations at the Clinton Foundation.
She referred to the latest allegations, in a new book called Clinton Cash, as "distractions" that come with being a declared candidate. "I know that, unfortunately, comes with the territory," she said.
Clinton also took a shot at the GOP field for its seemingly singular focus on her. "It is, I think, worth noting that the Republicans seem to be talking only about me," she said. "I don't know what they'd talk about if I'm not in the race."
That didn't dissuade anyone from talking about her.
Bush poked back at Clinton in a Monday afternoon tweet, seizing on comments she made about the regulation of small business. Referencing a tweet from Drew Cline, editorial page editor of The Union Leader in Manchester, who said that Clinton had been "making a pretty good case against the massive regulatory state," Bush piled on.
"Yes. Past time to roll it back," he tweeted, linking to Cline's original post.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.